WASHINGTON (JTA) — Eleven members of a conservative caucus among House Republicans filed impeachment charges against Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is supervising the probe into alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump’s campaign, transition and presidency.
The charges from the Freedom Caucus allege that Rosenstein, a Jewish Republican, has not cooperated in sharing materials from the probe led by a special counsel, Robert Mueller. The Department of Justice has said it has provided the vast majority of requested documents.
The Republican speaker, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, dismissed the significance of the filing in his Thursday briefing with reporters.
“I do not believe this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” Ryan said.
While the charges are unlikely to go anywhere, their filing — which is rare — has some leadership backing, including from Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the majority whip. And it shows a willingness by Trump’s congressional allies to play hardball. One of the 11 is Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who announced this week that he wants to succeed Ryan as speaker. Ryan is leaving Congress.
Polling suggests, however, that Democrats will win the House in November, and three top Democrats said Tuesday that were Trump to use the impeachment charge as a pretext to fire Rosenstein, he would be held accountable under a Democratic-led House.
“Any attempt to do so will be viewed by Congress and the American people as further proof of an effort to obstruct justice with severe consequences for Trump and his presidency,” The Washington Post quoted the statement from Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee; Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee; and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
All three would be chairmen in a Democrat-led House of Representatives and would wield considerable subpoena powers. Schiff and Nadler are Jewish.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from supervising the probe because of his involvement in the campaign and transition.